Lately I've been spending too much money. Why? Because I like those new towels or I want to get out of the house so I go to the shops. It's been happening without me really considering what that $20 here and $30 there has been doing to our bank account.
I usually have a budget for food, petrol etc and even that has gone out the window of late. I've found myself "popping out the the shops" almost on a daily basis instead of doing a once a week shop and it's been costly.
So, after receiving our latest credit card bill (and having a total freak out), I have made the decision to rein it in for the month of November. Yesterday I sat down and wrote myself some rules for "No Spend November":
Obviously everyone's household is different so if you want to do something similar, it's important to write out your own rules and set your own budget (make it achievable). The main point is, write it up and be accountable for your spending. Hopefully by the end of the month you can see the results in your bank account balances (for the good, I'm certainly hoping to see that in mine).
My rules are going to be simple: I can buy food and petrol. I can pay my bills but any discretionary spending is forbidden and I have to work smarter with the money that I'm allowed to spend (i.e. do more myself). I'm even hoping to MAKE a bit of money back.
FOOD/BOOZE: some ideas for making the budget go a bit further
* Get back to writing a shopping list and go to the shops ONLY ONCE a week (with my list).
* Try to use the food in my fridge/freezer/pantry before buying new food. Do a meal plan around the existing ingredients and only buy the little extras that I need.
* Buy cheaper home brand type products for the basics or buy in bulk.
* Swap excess eggs and veggies from my chooks/garden with my friends for either $$ or goodies that they might have that I don't (I have a friend that I often do this with. She might make some preserves/curry paste/stock in her Thermomix which she swaps with me for eggs or veggies.)
* Any left overs we won't eat the next day, freeze for another time. Don't let them spoil only to throw out.
* Pack hubby's lunches for work.
* Make all our bickies/muffins etc so I don't have to buy pre prepared snacks. Continue to make our bread and yoghurt (you can have a look at some of my previous blogs here about that.) If you don't make your own bread or plan to then here's another suggestion. Go to the supermarket at the end of the day and buy their left over breads which is often reduced later in the evening. Or go to your local bakery a buy the day old bread (especially if you're only going to be making something like toasted sandwiches for lunch which don't require the bread to be fresh.) Buy in bulk and freeze.
* Make my own laundry detergents, dishwasher powders, surface sprays etc. (again, lots of info in previous blogs).
* If we want to drink alcohol, drink the alcohol we DO have in the house first. There is still 4 bottles of vodka from an overseas trip five years ago tucked at the back of the cupboard. There's also bottles of wine and other dribs and drabs. No craft beer for us this month but we have just about everything else!
* Take my own water bottle with me so I don't buy drinks on the run. Same can go for snacks.
* This one is going to be simple. Reduce trips in the car because once the petrol runs out, there's no more filling it up until the following week. I don't know about you but I could walk around the corner to playgroup if I wanted but I drive. How lazy!
* A once a week trip to the supermarket is going to cut down petrol costs v's going every second day.
* Other suggestions are to have my friends come to my house instead me driving to go see them. Riding bikes or walking with the pram instead of driving to the park/playgroup etc.
* Use a discount docket when filling up which for me reduces my petrol costs by $2 - $4 each time.
* Most of my entertainment is based around my kids. We go to the library which is free. Library Rock n Rhyme singing on Tuesday and Thursdays (free), playgroup at the local school $2 per child. Parks are free, having visitors for playdates is free, The Playgroup toy library is free (after you've paid an initial up front fee), Skate park is free and staying home and playing with what we have is free!
* For the adults: Hold BBQ's and drinks at our house instead of going out to restaurants. Check the local council and community websites for free activities.
Firstly I think that a clever, thoughtful gift is far more impressive than an expensive one. When I do gifts, they are usually just a gesture and nothing over the top. My plan is:
* Make my own cards (that saves at least $5 on buying a card)
* Make my own gifts. This doesn't have to be crafty. Cooking a person something might be more achievable. Sometimes a simple gift like baking a batch of muffins can seem a whole lot more spectacular depending on how it's presented i.e. in a cute basket with a large bow on it or even presented in the tin that it was made in, wrapped in a large bow (this is a good thrift shop buying opportunity which is within my "allowed to buy" rules. They usually have a plethora of cake tins for only a few loose coins). If you want more crafty ideas then I have lots in my "gifts and craft" section of the blog.
* Give gifts from my "stash" of gifts box. This is a box of little items that I have to give away as gifts. Some of these things are items I've bought previously, some I've made and some of them are gifts I'VE been given which I don't really like/won't use so I RE-GIFT them. Important note: remember who gave you the gift in the first place so you don't re-gift it back to them! That could be embarrassing!
GENERAL COST SAVING IDEAS:
Scrutinise everything you spend money on. Is it necessary or can it be done every 4 weeks instead of every 2? Is there a better way to do things etc. For me:
* Turn off the heater. This time of year it's not freezing so the heater is unnecessary, I'll put on an extra jumper if I need (and don't underestimate the value of a "nanna blanket"!)
* Assess phone and internet plan. I'm pretty sure my mobile phone contract has ended and I never use all the phone quota. Maybe I can go to a cheaper plan.
* Reduce luxuries like getting nails done, etc. I'm sure I can scrub my own feet and apply some nail polish just as well as the ladies at Diamond Nails (although I will miss the massage chair - but isn't that what children are for?)
* Get rid of the newspaper and get a free news app on my phone.
* Borrow interior magazines from friends once they've read them (or I'm pretty sure the library loans magazines too). I usually buy them but I don't keep them once I've finished so not borrow?
* Use what you've got. I love to decorate but as I've said before, rearranging what you have existing is just as good as buying new (and cheaper!) I have stuff stashed at the back of cupboards everywhere. If I feel an urge to shop, I'll raid the back of the cupboard for a "fix".
* Cut down on "stuff" like disposable baby wipes. Ridiculous that I wipe little bottoms with wipes that cost me money when I could simply use a face washer, particularly for wee nappies. I might start by ditching wipes on the wee only nappies (and use a face washer) and save the disposable wipes for the poo! This is a basic example of a small saving that I can make and I'm sure there are plenty others. It's all about looking at how we do things day to day and whether they are a necessary expense.
MAKE SOME MONEY:
Anything that you don't use any more and is still nice quality can be sold. Have a clean out, make a pile and then get to work. This is my plan:
* Hold a garage sale or book a table at the local market if there is a lot of stuff from my clean out.
* For more expensive items or top quality brands, sell individually on websites such as Gumtree and Ebay.
So if you're like me and feel that a month of reining it in wouldn't go astray, then the big thing is TO BE ORGANISED. Bread takes hours to prepare so if you need bread for sandwiches in the morning, plan ahead. Write lists and keep a calendar/diary with your daily tasks. There's no denying that making more whether that be biscuits, lunches, gifts etc takes TIME but if you do one thing a day, it is a lot less taxing on your family life and soon it just becomes part of your daily routine like brushing your teeth.
I'll keep you posted through the month on how I'm going and any extra tips I've got along the way. I hope that what I do this month can reset my frivolous mindset for a more frugal for the months going forward. Especially with Christmas coming up....but that's a discussion for another day.